On this day in 1991, Shingo Takatsu made his NPB debut for the Swallows. Selected in the third round of the 1990 draft out of Asia University, he was first used as a starter but only won a few games during his first two seasons on the top team.
It wasn’t until the 1993 season that he got a shot at closing games, and the Swallows won the Japan Series that year, a feat that they had fallen short of the year before. Takatsu was also the Swallows’ closer for the team’s Japan Series titles in 1995 and 2001.
The sidearm, slow sinker specialist is perhaps best known for not allowing a single run in his 11 Japan Series appearances from which he earned eight saves.
286 NPB saves puts him second on the all-time list behind Chunichi’s current closer, Hitoki Iwase. Throw his MLB saves in there, and he’s at 313 total.
Takatsu is back in Japan now after stints in the majors, where he won a World Series with the 2005 Chicago White Sox, KBO, and Taiwan’s pro league. He can also be seen on TV quite regularly in Japan as a baseball analyst and commentator.
When Tsubamegun owns the team, we promise to give you a proper sendoff, Mr. Takatsu!